Six degrees of Dayton bacon

Bacon Fest debuts at Fraze Pavilion

By Brandy King

 Photo: Try the bacon and cheese perogi from Amber Rose at Bacon Fest at Fraze Pavilion on Aug. 18

Some of us have a love affair with pig that’s as old as time. Of this pork-loving crowd, some have grown to resent bacon’s moment in the spotlight – creating a breed of bacon hipsters insisting that they liked it first – and have moved on to something more obscure like ramps and organ meats. The other half, however, have embraced this baconomenon as a way to share the love with everyone. One of those people is Amy Zahora, Executive Director of Miami Valley Restaurant Association (MVRA) and founder of Restaurant Raiders. She’s even helping bacon enjoy its moment in the sun by throwing the candy of meats its very own festival this month at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering.

Is Bacon Fest your personal lovechild, or something that a group (like the Restaurant Raiders) came up with? 

BaconFest is my personal love child, as is Restaurant Raiders. –Amy Zahora

Did the cultural phenomenon and food media’s recent love affair with bacon play a part in your decision to create Bacon Fest? 

I came up with Bacon Fest from posting a bacon meme on Facebook. It was shared over 50 times in 15 minutes – by the end of the day it was everywhere. So I started thinking, “My nephews love bacon. They would eat it three times a day if allowed. So, why not do a bacon festival?” I talked to some locally owned restaurants and they were all interested. -AZ

Tell us more about Restaurant Raiders. 

It’s a group of foodies who meet once or twice a month and raid a locally-owned restaurant on their slower days and times. Each happy hour raid typically has over 100 in attendance. In addition to the monthly raids, there will be daily Raider deals on the website from area restaurants starting in August. These deals will also be during the restaurant’s slower times. Our tagline is “Keeping It Local, One Raid at a Time.” People come to network, try different restaurants and to support local business. It’s a lot of fun and a really good group of people. During the raids, the restaurant offers a really good food deal and then I email it out to everyone. There is always a food special, and specials from Buckeye Vodka, Allied Wine and Heidelberg Distributing. It’s a blast. The next one is Wednesday, Aug. 28, at The Deli at 32 Webster. -AZ

Did the cultural phenomenon and food media’s recent love affair with bacon play a part in your decision to create Bacon Fest?

It was actually the picture that I posted and then thinking about my nephews, and then I thought, “Everyone loves bacon,” so it’s a new way to have a little fun. -AZ

Do you consider the Miami Valley to be up-to-date when it comes to food trends? 

Yes, I subscribe to magazines from other cities and I think with some things we are actually above the curve. I love the Miami Valley, [I was] born and raised here, so it’s all about promoting our restaurants. -AZ

You held the Kickin’ Chicken Wing Fest at Fraze in July. Can we expect these events by the Restaurant Raiders to be the first of many food fests of their kind in Dayton?

Yes, the Kickin’ Chicken Festival is actually a Fraze and Miami Valley Restaurant Association event. However, I would like to do more events that focus on our locally/independently owned restaurants. -AZ

I love bacon, like any good American – but can only eat it crispy. I’ll put crispy bacon on nearly anything.  How do you prefer your bacon?

It has to be crispy, for sure. I can’t eat it any other way. -AZ

Are vegans allowed at Bacon Fest?

Sure, although the festival may tempt them. -AZ

Can things be thrown at them?

Well, not sure about that. -AZ

I assume you’ve seen the menu for most of the Bacon Fest vendors, so give us a little something to make everyone salivate in anticipation. What dish are you most looking forward to, and who is presenting it? 

I actually do not have all the menus, only seen a few. A few that look really great are: Shish Wraps is doing Shish bacon fries. They are crispy with feta cheese, a little olive oil and parsley, topped off with some fresh bacon. Their Shish fries are already awesome and adding bacon to the mix – oh my! Coco’s is serving a salad with warm bacon dressing, Archer’s Tavern is serving a bacon-wrapped hot dog (a new feature on their restaurant menu), and Sweetum’s (from the Fairfield Commons Mall) is serving chocolate covered bacon. Some of the restaurants will also be participating in “Bacon Week,” leading up to the festival. We will have a kick-off brunch with Buckeye Vodka Bacon Bloody Mary’s (location and date TBD), and we have some wine dinners and beer dinners we are working on, so stay tuned! -AZ

Some food fests are paid entry and free tastes, some vice-versa.  Which model will Bacon Fest use? 

Free admission with pay per taste. Each booth will have something for $3 and go up from there – but nothing more than $6. We want to give everyone the opportunity to sample all of the restaurants. And at $3, they will have a shot with over 15
restaurants participating. -AZ


Bacon Fest takes place Saturday, Aug. 18, at 2 p.m. at Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd. in Kettering. For more information, please visit and

 Reach DCP freelance writer Brandy King at and visit her blog, Caricature by Jay King.


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